MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is on pace to further relax travel restrictions by eliminating testing and vaccination requirements, despite the prospect of more contagious and vaccine-evasive coronavirus strains hanging over the nation.
Maria Cristina Frasco, the Secretary of Tourism, declared on Tuesday that “stringent protocols,” such as RT-PCR testing before arrival in the Philippines and the requirement that international visitors to the nation be completely immunized, will be dropped.
Unvaccinated international visitors will be permitted entry into the nation if they can show proof of an antigen test conducted within the previous 24 hours or take one upon arrival, according to Frasco.
In a news conference, Frasco stated, “We are optimistic that with all of these restrictions being lifted by the Marcos administration, that this can only rebound to the benefit of millions of Filipinos’ lives and that it would also serve to promote the reinvigoration of the tourism business.”
A date for the implementation of these new protocols has not yet been disclosed by the Department of Tourism.
She continued by saying that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s administration had as its primary goal making the nation “communicate an openness and a readiness to the globe to receive tourists and investors.”
When questioned about the XBB and XBC variations, of which the first cases were discovered last week and have now reached the level of local transmission, Frasco responded that they weren’t the coronavirus’s initial iterations.
“In the end, we simply cannot go on in a pandemic perspective because we have to give our country an opportunity to thrive while maintaining basic health protocols on one hand and safeguarding and protecting livelihood and the economy on the other,” she said.
The easing of travel restrictions was announced along with the plan to make masking optional indoors.